Thursday, March 15, 2018

Impossible Burger (no flag)

A talented chef where I work had the opportunity to use Impossible Foods' Impossible Burgers* as an exploration of sustainable protein sources for the next generation, assuming they will have figured out that filtering grain through animals doesn't seem like the best plan. Knowing I'm vegan, he was anxious to hear what I thought of it, and offered myself and my colleagues a private taste test at a top secret location.

He explained that he'd received the product as "chopped meat" and had experimented with patties of different thicknesses. He'd decided that a relatively thin patty offered the most authentic tasting burger, so that's what he prepared for us. These were the partially thawed patties looking all bloody like I remember coming out of VM's freezer (insert barf-face here):

He told us that the "meat" was made up predominately of wheat, coconut oil, and potatoes. He knew all about the "heme" (leghemoglobin) and explained that the burger could be cooked well, medium or bloody rare- with the droplets of coconut oil mimicking the animal fat pockets in cow burgers. Grody. He cooked mine in a separate pan because I was the only vegan in the group and he's the best.

I thought I detected a meaty smell when it began cooking, but as it continued to cook I couldn't exactly place the scent. He recommended cooking my burger well, guessing correctly that I did not need my burger to "bleed." He cooked it in a little bit of oil, which gave a nice crisp to the surfaces of the patty.

The others in the group ranged from ardent carnivores to everyday omnivores, and one relatively new vegetarian. I think it's a great sign that they were all up for the taste-test- with nary a naysayer in the bunch.

It's not often I get to partake in a fixin's bar, so I loaded my burger up with ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and sliced pickled jalapenos in lieu of standard pickles.

You'll note that I was robbed of an "Impossible" flag

I've eaten a lot of bean and/or vegetable patties in my day- and more of the ubiquitous portabella mushroom "burgers" than I care to revisit, so I wouldn't necessarily categorize this as a veggie burger. It reminded me more of a fast-food type burger replica (sans gristle) than a hand-formed, chopped meat patty- except it wasn't nasty. I actually enjoyed it much more than I expect to, as did the omnis and vegetarian. The meat-lover ate a bite and a half and apologized that she couldn't "choke down" any more, but everyone else finished every bite. Nobody thought they could be tricked into thinking that this was a cow burger, which I think is a possibility with the Beyond Burger.

Our group had a great conversation about sustainability and spoke very little about ethics, but what they were most interested in was the nutrition. It turns out that the Impossible Burger packs about twice as much protein as a cow burger; this was probably why I found it to be so extraordinarily filling. I suppose that Impossible Foods made the Impossible burger so protein-dense in an effort to stave off the "where do you get your protein" crowd. They're definitely marketing it to non-vegans (fine by me), but could the protein content be overkill? Another interesting note is that my colleagues were very interested in the nutritional stats, but none of them had any offhand knowledge regarding the nutrition of a cow burger. One admitted that he won't purchase a store-bought knish because the nutritional information listed on the package scares him off, but that he doesn't hesitate to buy what is likely the same product, albeit unlabeled, from a deli without worrying about the contents because he can't see them. What you don't know and all that.

So grateful to have had the opportunity to try this burger, but I definitely wouldn't seek it out for a redo. Others seem to be in love with it, so if that makes vegans and/or keeps vegans happy, that's fine by me.

*UPDATE 3/15/18: after gentle reminders from friends and fans, I'm adding the issue of Impossible Foods' animal testing to this post, the original omission of which was an egregious oversight on my part. The CEO of Impossible Foods is vegetarian and conducted animal testing that was not required to create this burger. His response appears here; you can find many opinions with a quick Google search. As an ethical vegan, I am not a proponent of animal testing, but acquiesce that it is sometimes unavoidable- many of our systems are ill designed. That seems not to have been the case here, so the decision is a perplexing one, for sure.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Divine Treasures Valentine's Day 2018

Had a special treat for Valentine's Day this year: chocolates from Divine Treasures!

In addition to the above assortment, which we'll get back to, were other wonderful treats that I'm still enjoying because I'm trying not to overdo it (for example, please see previous V-day posts).

The first thing I dug into was one of these Hettie the Hedgehogs. Filled with coconut cream and almonds, these are basically the most delicious coconut/almond/dark chocolate candy bars, but, because they're hedgehog-shaped, they're infinitely superior to any non-hedgehog shaped candy bar. Absolutely DELICIOUS and the proportion of chocolate to yummy filling was perfection. i have a special affinity for hedgies because 89 loves 'em (plush versions). *edited to ad that you can't tell how cute the hedgie is in this pic because if I open another one, I will immediately stuff it in my pie hole.

Then I opened the assortment, which was wrapped quite nicely (bag not included).

Even better, though, was the fact that there was a chocolate key inside! You know: the little chart that tells you exactly which chocolates are which flavors; I love that.

But the BEST part about getting an assortment like this is that dogs can't eat chocolate, so... NO SHARING NECESSARY! Sorry, nerd.


The first thing I devoured ate was the non-pareils. Lucky for me, there was another box full of them lurking in my V-day package, so there were many to fall back on.


The rest of the flavors were truly an assortment. I've done you the favor of rating them one through eight, with 1 being best (obviously). I'm hoping this information will be very helpful to my chocolate benefactors when buying me more chocolate you.

Here's some specifics to back up my ratings:
  1. mello bar: vegan marshmallow, crisp rice and chocolate. WOW. Who doesn't want what basically amounts to a chewy, marshmallowy krackel bar?
  2. non-pareils: chocolate covered in naturally dyed organic sprinkles. First of all, you get two in this slot, so that's a major bonus. Secondly, when I was a kid, the Russell Stover assortment my dad got me annually had one slot that was filled with two candies and we called those the dog biscuits and I would get fed them under the table. TRUE STORY. Last, I love sprinkles, so the non-pareils are always a winner.
  3. peanut butter melt: organic peanut butter and chocolate. I mean, obviously. The peanut butter in this was subtle, which somehow made it fancier. It also really did melt in my mouth, which was kind of awesome.
  4. hazelnut praline: Enough said, right? Agreed.
  5. caramel with sea salt: caramel with himalayan pink salt. Super soft caramel with a medium coating of chocolate and a dusting of salt.
  6. toffee bark: ground toffee mixed in our chocolate. I expected to like this one much more than I did. The toffee just had all of the stick-to-your-teethedness with not as much toffee flavor as I would have liked.
  7. woodford reserve bourbon with pecans: OOF; this was STRONG! I actually had to take a bite, eat a different candy, and then come back to this one. I swear there was a whole pecan (yay!) in there and probably a full shot of bourbon (oof).
  8. strawberry margarita: tequila & sea salt. I'm going to be honest with you; I did not even try this one. I'm not super into fruit in chocolate AND I hate margaritas; they taste like when you get ocean water up your nose. VM ate it and immediately confirmed, "you wouldn't have liked it."

Other than my chocolate, 89 got a pink stuffed lamb to devour and flowers.

I got flowers too. Beautiful. Not edible.

When's the next chocolate-appropriate gift-giving holiday?
In the meantime, you can check out 89's insta for the rest of her valentine's outfits and assorted shenanigans.